In the heart of Europe, a little country (often confused with Slovenia) stands proud of its natural beauty and rich history. Not fully discovered by foreign tourists and untouched by masses of people, the country has a lot to offer to those who are coming with open heart and mind ready to learn about its people, culture and cuisine.
In this article, I’ll tell you more about this beautiful country. You’ll learn about places to discover and explore as well as many other reasons why you should visit Slovakia.
Why should you visit Slovakia
As I mentioned before, Slovakia has a lot to offer. The capital city, Bratislava, is one of the destinations Britons pick for their stag and hen party because of the relatively cheap alcohol. But this shouldn’t be the reason for visiting Slovakia. After all, what can you remember after a weekend wasted in a foreign pub? I wrote some more meaningful reasons to visit Slovakia so it can become better known not only for partying and cheap alcohol but also for its nature, cultural and historical heritage.
- Breathe in fresh air surrounded by nature
- Discover peaks of High Tatra Mountains, the pride of the Slovak nation
- Explore small villages hidden in the valleys
- Enjoy walking around historical cities proud of their heritage
- Step back in time while exploring medieval Castles and beautiful manor houses
- Learn about housing architecture
- Step inside the Earth and enjoy the stunning ornamental creations of many unique caves
Breathe in fresh air surrounded by nature
Mountains with snowy peaks, long stretching hills, beautiful deep lakes and reservoirs, magical valleys, fields and flowery meadows, all of these within a few hundred kilometres. Disconnect from the virtual world and put on your hiking boots. You won’t be disappointed. Whether you choose to discover Liptov, Orava, Gemer, Spis or other parts of Slovakia, there are many opportunities for walking, hiking, cycling and exploring.
Discover peaks of High Tatra Mountains, the pride of the Slovak nation
The High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) are famous for their natural beauty. High peaks touching the sky, sometimes hidden in the clouds, beautiful crystal clear lakes, numerous walks and hiking trails. These are all waiting for you to explore. Hop on a cable car that will carry you up to the Skalnaté Pleso and then to Lomnický Štít. Enjoy breathtaking views and fill your lungs with fresh air. It is so easy to forget about everyday worries. Close your eyes and you will feel like you are on top of the world.
If are looking for a relaxing day out then visit Štrbské Pleso. It is a favourite ski, tourist and health resort. Let the guide take you on a boat trip and watch the fish swim in the clear waters. The nearest city and getaway to the High Tatras is the Poprad city. Here you can find a lot of great accommodation and restaurants and also well-known attraction thermal aquapark AquaCity Poprad.
Explore small villages hidden in the valleys
Hire a car and go on a road trip adventure. You will discover small villages surrounded by hills and mountains. You might be surprised to find villages in remote locations where you wouldn’t expect them to be. Central Slovakia is the best region if you are looking to discover former mining communities in the middle of nowhere.
Enjoy walking around historical cities proud of their heritage
Not just historical centre of Bratislava has its charm. There is also Trnava, so-called Slovak Vatican with its many beautiful churches or Nitra, one of the oldest cities in Slovakia. Travelling further east you can stop in Banska Bystrica to enjoy a gentle stroll in the beautiful city centre and then go further to Košice where the Gothic cathedral of St Elisabeth will win your heart. Next, visit Prešov, the third-largest city and then Bardejov, where you will surely fall in love with the intact medieval town centre. Heading back from east to west you can choose the northern route and stop in Poprad from where you can enjoy the magnificent views of High Tatras and then stop for a nice cup of coffee in Žilina.
Step back in time while exploring medieval Castles and beautiful manor houses
Slovakia has many medieval castles worth exploring. The Spiš Castle is one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe. Muráň Castle is well known for its unusually high altitude of 935 m. However, my favourite castle is Orava Castle. It is one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia alongside with Bojnice castle and Krásna Hôrka Castle. The latter was unfortunately damaged in 2012 by fire caused by two youngsters attempting to light up a cigarette. They accidentally lit grass on the castle hill and from there the fire spread to the castle. Since then the castle has been closed and under reconstruction. It was a very sad day for the whole nation.
Apart from beautiful medieval castles, you can also visit many stunning manor houses. However, don’t compare them to English halls and estates because Slovakia has a rather different history and there aren’t as many aristocratic families as, for example, in Britain. Remember, Slovakia never had their own royals.
Learn about housing architecture
Same as every country, Slovakia has its own architectonic styles of houses ever-changing and adjusting over the period of time. While in England you can see many terraced houses, little cottages and mansions, in Slovakia you will find detached wooden houses, longhouses, two generation ‘square’ houses and modern custom build houses many with generous gardens. While in towns and cities apartment blocks are very common. Terraced houses or semi-detached houses as we can see them in England are not so common, although, this is slowly changing because of the growing prices of building plots in Western Slovakia and thanks to developers being inspired by The West buying larger plots of lands and stacking houses next to each other with a view of higher profits.
If you are interested in the traditional architecture of Slovak homes, you must visit open-air museums such as Vlkolínec, Pribylina, Zuberec or Čičmany.
Step inside the Earth and enjoy the stunning ornamental creations of many unique caves
Do you dare to guess how many caves are in Slovakia? Over 2400 caves and underground places! Yes, that’s right, but only a few of them can be admired by a public eye. Many of them are hidden or you need a special permission and an experienced guide to be able to enter them. But don’t worry, those that are open to the public are enough to keep you occupied and astounded. I should mention that Slovak caves are unique. The Slovak Karst system is listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Just to mention a few: Belianska cave is in the High Tatras where you can admire a naturally-formed “music auditorium” in which concerts are held. Dobšinská Ice Cave is a beautiful cave full of ice filling including waterfalls and ice stalagmites. Ochtinská Aragonite Cave has stunning aragonite ornaments and in some of them, with a bit of imagination, you can see things such as a heart, a key, Milkyway or even a ghost.
When is the best time to visit Slovakia
You can visit Slovakia any time of the year. It greatly depends on what your interests are and what you would like to do and see.
In winter, there are many ski slopes you can try your ski and snowboarding skills on. Winter scenery is truly wonderful but you should prepare yourself for subzero temperature. So dress up warm and enjoy the white snow and blue skies. A cup of Tatratea (a tea-based herbal liqueur 52%) will keep you warm! Don’t try the 72% version or you won’t remember where you come from, trust me.
If you go on skiing trip or holiday, don’t forget to bring your suncream! I am not joking :).
Spring and Autumn are fantastic seasons for hikers and walkers. There are many trails you can enjoy and many things to see. Also, as this is the low season you just might find the peace and quiet you are looking for. Many attractions are open including caves or castles and the weather is just right. Not too hot and not too cold.
Summer months are considered as high season. There are many outdoor swimming pools Slovaks love and visit. Also, children have their summer holiday from 1st of July until the end of August so expect places such as Aquacity or Tatralandia pretty packed.
So are you planning to visit Slovakia?
Where is Slovakia? 🙂